Aug 20, 2020 - Technology

Reddit says new policies have lowered hate speech posts by 18%

Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Nearly two months after Reddit made changes to its hate speech policies, including banning the pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald, along with 2,000 other subreddit groups and users, it says it's already seeing a lot less hate speech on its platform.

Why it matters: Reddit has for years faced intense scrutiny for its hands-off policies on hate speech. The recent protests around racial justice finally pushed it to make changes to its rules this summer.

By the numbers: There has been an 18% reduction in users posting hateful content when compared to the two weeks prior to the ban, Reddit says, noting that the banned subreddits were viewed by approximately 365,000 users each day prior to their bans.

  • Before the new policies, it says potentially hateful pieces of content amounted to 0.2% of total content posted each day — most of which was left in comments.
  • It notes that there were far fewer people who actually viewed that content. Prior to the ban, potentially hateful content amounted to about 0.16% of total views.
  • Overall, about 8% of potentially hateful content is reported each day, while 30% of potentially hateful content is removed, mostly by Reddit moderators and its artificial intelligence tool called AutoModerator.

Reddit also released data about what types of people hate speech typically targets on Reddit, with ethnicity and nationality being the biggest target (48%).

  • It is followed by political affiliation and class (16%), sexuality (12%), gender (10%) and religion (6%).

Worth noting: Reddit cautions that this is a preliminary study and that hate speech is constantly evolving to avoid moderation.

  • "[P]eople are weirdly creative about how to be mean to each other," a Reddit administrator said in a blog post.
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